Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Testing, 1 2 3

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  • caycos,

    That's... kinda depressing. Really well written! But sad :(

    Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 28 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Wow, thank you for that Jolisa. Public Address over the last few days has quietly outdone itself.

    The connection between the tests and every other facet of school became clearer and sharper as time went on.

    I was thinking while reading that it sounded like your child went to my primary school. And yes, we were strong on testing, but there were no national standards as such, it was simply the overall philosophy, which was about contents and hurdles and rules and making the child fit in the peg hole. I have it on the authority of friends with kids back home that it's still the case to a large extent. And incidentally, I've met a number of Italians over here in my situation that have either left to go back so they could send their kids to that type of school, or are relentlessly critical of NZ schools because "they don't teach anything". I happen to think it's just the opposite, and that it is the product of a philosophy with deep roots and supported by dedicated teachers and administrators. I very much doubt that national standards alone, especially once they've been wisely integrated into the system by people in our MoE who know just how lucky we are, Frederick, could undo all that. (And I am against them, that's understood. I just don't think they could be devastating to quite that extent.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7349 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Yeah, that was amazing. It recalls the difficulties my parents had in the 1990s, when they eventually decided to homeschool me rather than stick out a school that was failing in part due to misguided and simplistic policies. After a while they sent me to an out of zone secondary school, again leaving the community behind.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2130 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Brillant Jolissa!

    Bright & bored kids can...be bloody disruptive or just - so-sadly- give-up.

    When I first went to school, I could read and write, quite well. What I couldnt do, was see.

    And eyesight tests were not a given in 1952.

    There are some kind of tests....

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    it was simply the overall philosophy, which was about contents and hurdles and rules and making the child fit in the peg hole

    I think that a lot of this Government's thinking on education comes from an imaginary and ideal type. I don't want to disparage this, because they can be useful as guides to thinking. To be useful however, it must be based on real evidence, or trialled in real world conditions before wholesale adoption.

    But in this case, the ideal type is Rangitoto College and Auckland Grammar, and ideas about the approach to education that these institutions are thought to embody. Rather than any consideration of the way in which these schools select in an evolutionary sense for students, there appears to be the idea that if determination to do well is instilled into students, educational success will follow. These students are doing badly because expectations are too low.

    Establishing measurable standards is a logical collorary of such an approach, because it allows for schools that aren't performing to be identified and targeted for such measures.

    These are typically right-wing ideas, because they assume that success is a matter of hard work rather than a combination of factors.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2130 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Oh Jolisa. Beautiful, just beautiful, and so prescient, really. I admire your chutzpah sticking it out but at least you know why your boy needed to go elsewhere. Many parents' decisions around school have to do with decile ratings, and test scores and tables. National Standards, in my humble opinion, are pushing us further down that track. As a teacher of pre school children, it frustrates me enough that the creativity of my sector hasn't breached the barrier of "formalised learning" in this country, try and try and try as some of us might. Testing, and strenuous summative assessment, just make it all so much harder. I have so much to say on this subject, but I'm not ready just yet. Maybe when I've listened to what Julie has to say, next week........

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Moz,

    There was a brilliant response to the school-measuring proposal in the West Island: the testing is obviously so that next year the struggling children can be moved to the best-performing schools where the brilliant teachers can turn them into top students.

    Similarly, in NZ the standardised testing can show which schools are over-performing and thus can have their excess funding reallocated to the schools with an excess of poorly performing students.

    The lucky schools can afford to see how much teaching to the test hurts students. The unlucky ones can't afford to do anything but TTTT.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    That was a great read, Jolisa.

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 507 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Oh that just breaks my heart.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 704 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Nimmo,

    This is such awful stuff. I think my li'l English/New Zilder/American cousin was having some similar issues (not quite sure if these were directly test-related; they may have 'just' been a result of certain teaching attitudes) with his previous school - and that was tenuously attached to Vanderbilt.

    I suppose at least the children growing up with this system won't be stupid enough to foist it on their own offspring.

    Wellington • Since May 2009 • 96 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood,

    That was a beautiful piece of writing, Jolisa, I hope you're going to re-write that and freelance it somewhere. Because I think more people need to read stories like this, just to underline where the attitude that surrounds standardised testing and teaching takes us if it's viewed merely as an end, rather than a means. Christ, it's pretty heartbreaking stuff, though.

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 443 posts Report Reply

  • slarty,

    Thanks for that - a superb read. Depressing, but...

    I guess if the policy goal is to ensure there is still an underclass to service the (relatively) rich it is highly successful...

    And thank you for providing some evidence to support my terrible prejudice :)

    As a Gen X I was tending towards going back to Australia this afternoon following Key's predictable vacuum.

    I realise I need to get a move on, before my child starts school...

    Since Nov 2006 • 290 posts Report Reply

  • Tess Rooney,

    That was a very sad read... Thank you for sharing with us. I think it's criminal that children don't get a proper lunch time to play, eat and relax.

    Since May 2009 • 256 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Wow, thank you for that Jolisa. Public Address over the last few days has quietly outdone itself.

    We plan these campaigns in real-time collaborative space in Google Wave, which gives us the ability to present cohesive, collaborative and complementary messages at critical times.

    Actually, that's not even true at all.

    And Jolisa, I can tell that post has been a long time brewing. It's superb.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18665 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I hope you're going to re-write that and freelance it somewhere.

    Wholehartedly agree. Try te Listener first. Go on - perhaps Ms Black will choke on her cornflakes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16440 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    These are typically right-wing ideas, because they assume that success is a matter of hard work rather than a combination of factors.

    They assume the playing field is already level and unsurprisingly it looks just as they expect it to. Any who refuse to succeed must therefore be lazy or defiant. And odd.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16440 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Yeah. Right.
    Actually, very few people care about semiblind people at all.
    We're so polite & careful we dont run over - anything.
    We just nourish our hatred and - run over THE ENTIRE PHUQUEING UNIVERSE

    o. do excuse me.

    u didn ....hear a .... thing

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Kirsten Brethouwer,

    thanks Jolisa.. helps me understand some stuff that's "going on" .
    re: inquiry learning, did this school by chance have the international baccalaureate's primary years programme implemented?

    Waiheke Island • Since Nov 2006 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Aloha Ms Brethouwer. Was listening to Transglobal Undergound today and thinking of your man's fabulous tour story. Greetings to him too.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16440 posts Report Reply

  • Kirsten Brethouwer,

    Talofa Sacha.. all's well with you I hope. Will pass on your greetings.

    Waiheke Island • Since Nov 2006 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Thanks for that Jolisa. What seems very clear in both this and the other thread on National Standards is that education is often, or maybe always, an individual thing. One size does not fit all, so a perfectly adaptable system would be better than just a perfect one.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Kate Hunt,

    A beautifully written piece -- thank you so much for that. I totally agree that it deserves a wider audience.

    As mother of a child who was always in the bottom percentile on the Plunket graphs (well, actually she slid off the bottom of the page), I can only imagine the distress and anguish of seeing 'Plunket charts' for learning. I was fortunate in that I could actually decide to ignore the 'norms' and do what I felt was right for my daughter. The first step was to remove her from all the medical investigations that, in the end, turned out to be for 'academic interest'.

    Removing one's child from the education system isn't so easy, unless you are in a position to homeshool.

    A question: How will the standards affect those who do homeschool their children?

    Wellington • Since Feb 2010 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    especially once they've been wisely integrated into the system by people in our MoE who know just how lucky we are, Frederick

    We love you too Giovanni :)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    As mother of a child who was always in the bottom percentile on the Plunket graphs (well, actually she slid off the bottom of the page), I can only imagine the distress and anguish of seeing 'Plunket charts' for learning.

    You know, Kate, that's what came back to me when I was reading the lovely Explaining National Standards pamphlet - the brief hell my family went through because my son wouldn't gain weight as a baby, no matter what proportion of the grocery bill was going on shovelling carbohydrates into his face. Our solution was the same as yours: rather than constantly be called a bad parent because my perfectly healthy child's lines weren't where they should be, we stopped going to Plunket. He still looks like he's just popped out of a concentration camp for the weekend, and he's still fine.

    What really got me, reading Jolisa's column and sniffling, is that the system she describes appears to have completely lost sight of the point of education. Or, it seems, any idea that the things being measured are people.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    Our solution was the same as yours: rather than constantly be called a bad parent because my perfectly healthy child's lines weren't where they should be, we stopped going to Plunket. He still looks like he's just popped out of a concentration camp for the weekend, and he's still fine

    This mirrors my experience with those bloody graphs very closely. I was told to deny my 9 month old the breast in order to make him eat the purees he was refusing. the only discernable effect of this tactic was to make mother and baby cry and then resolve never to go back.

    My kid's school appears to be taking the approach that if parents want to know where their kids sit on the graph they can ask the teacher but they won't send the info out unsolicited because they don't see any value in it.

    (edited because I did the formatting the way I would for a different site)

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 704 posts Report Reply

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